Lesson 41: “I Have Finished My Course”
Both the current lesson and the following one from the 1983 Gospel Doctrine manual center on the epistles to Timothy and Titus. The current lesson, with its purpose statement “to encourage class members to learn and teach true doctrine and be righteous examples for others,” is much stronger than the old one, with its rather generic listing of good qualities leaders should have; still, there may be some parts of this old lesson, particularly in its introductory discussion of Timothy’s personal background and the role of the home in preparing Saints, that could be useful to today’s teachers.
The Pastoral Epistles
1-2 Timothy, Titus
Objective: From the teachings in Paul’s “pastoral epistles,” identify those qualities that will help us become more godly.
SUGGESTED LESSON DEVELOPMENT
Read 2 timothy 1:5.
* What observation does Paul make here? (That the faith and fidelity of Timothy’s family has spanned three generations.)
* Using Timothy’s family background as a reference point, what further observations did Paul make in 2 Timothy 3:12? (Continue in the things you’ve been taught from childhood, including reading the scriptures.)
* Should parents today be teaching their children to know the scriptures also? (No response required.)
Bishop H. Burke Peterson has counseled, “There shouldn’t be – there mustn’t be – one family in this Church that doesn’t take the time to read from the scriptures every day” (in CR, Apr. 1975, p. 79; or Ensign, May 1975, pp. 54-55).
Timothy was a very young man when he was converted by Paul in Lystra. His further training was completed by Paul, who loved him as his own son and spoke of him always with great pride. Paul, who had matured in the gospel, shares precious insights with his “dearly beloved son” (2 Timothy 1:2) in letters.
Titus, in whom Paul also trusted, received some of the same insights in written communication from Paul. Titus was apparently converted by Paul, perhaps in Antioch. he attended the Jerusalem Conference and was associated with Paul in some of his missionary endeavors. He carried the first and second epistles of Paul to the Saints in Corinth. Titus was in Crete when he received Paul’s letter to him. he later served a mission to Dalmatia. (See “Titus,” Bible Dictionary, pp. 785-86.)
* What does the word pastor mean? (shepherd.)
Paul’s letters to timothy and Titus are called the “pastoral epistles” because they deal with the responsibilities of bishops and other shepherds [pastors] of the flock. Paul’s counsel is still applicable to us today.
A Pattern of Godliness
Write the word pattern on the chalkboard.
* When you hear the word pattern, what other words come to mind/ (Model, copy, blueprint, imitation, for example.)
Paul is very direct in proposing a pattern of godliness to Timothy and Titus (add the words of godliness following the word pattern on the chalkboard).
Read 1 Timothy 1:5 (see also 1 Timothy 1:18-19).
* What three virtues does Paul say are “the end of the commandment”? (Charity or pure love, a good conscience, and faith unfeigned [not pretended]. Add these words to the chalkboard.)
* What are examples of these three virtues? (Allow the class to respond freely.)
Read 1 Timothy 1:15-16. Add long-suffering (or patience) to the list on the board.
* What relationships do you see between faith and patience, between a good conscience and faith, between love and faith? (True faith enables one to wait patiently for a promised outcome. A good conscience opens the door to faith, and constant faith produces a good conscience. Love of Jesus Christ results in faith, and faith leads to love of the Savior.)
* What are other virtues that could be added to the list on the board? (These might include: soberness, obedience, sincerity, knowledge of sound doctrine, etc.)
Paul counseled the youthful Timothy to be “an example of the believers.” Read 1 timothy 4:12-16.
* What attributes of godliness was Timothy counseled to exemplify? (Review the verses just read.)
Read 2 Timothy 2:19.
* How do we personally “name the name of Christ”? (Through baptism we become members of his Church and through weekly sacrament services we continually renew our covenant to take his name upon us. When we accept calls to serve in the Church, we offer ourselves to serve in his name.)
In his letters to Timothy and Titus, Paul lists qualities that are particularly important for bishops to have.
Have a class member read 1 timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9.
* What other qualities does Paul list? (A good husband, watchful, well behaved, hospitable, able to teach, temperate [“not given to wine”], not violent, not greedy, patient, not a coveter, a good father, knowledgeable of doctrines and principles, a good reputation, etc.
* Should these qualities be restricted only to bishops?
Have a class member read D&C 121:39-46.
* How does this latter-day revelation on priesthood responsibility compare with Paul’s instructions? (The qualities listed by Paul and set forth in the Doctrine and Covenants are important not only for priesthood leaders, but for all of us. They make up a pattern of godliness.)
Likening the Scriptures unto Us
Like Timothy and Titus, we today have the responsibility of cultivating attributes of godliness. We should make the principles of the gospel effective in our own lives and also share these truths with others.
* What statement did Paul make that shows he had done his best to develop qualities of godliness and had been a faithful steward?
Read 2 Timothy 4:7-8.
Challenge class members to incorporate the principles of godliness into their lives so that they can one day join Paul in having “fought a good fight” and in receiving “a crown of righteousness.”
Read the Epistle to the Hebrews and identify the central theme.
1 Timothy 4:12: Despise in Greek means “disregard or look down on.”
Titus, 3:9: Genealogies, “linked here with contentions and strivings about the law of Moses, … refer to the false Jewish tradition that salvation was for the chosen seed as … known by genealogical recitations. In this dispensation, the Lord has commanded genealogical research as an essential requisite in making salvation available to those who do not have opportunity to receive the gospel in this life.” (DNTC, 3:127.)